It can be difficult to know how to talk to your children about drugs, both legal and illegal.
With cannabis legalization coming this year, kids are more likely to be talking about it with each other. Drug Free Kids Canada recently released a tool kit for helping parents get involved in the conversation, and executive director Marc Paris shared some of the tips with Island Morninghost Matt Rainnie.
How to start
“It has to be a dialogue. I think a good way to start is just to say, ‘What do you know about cannabis? How are you guys talking about it at school?’
“Try to open a dialogue so that the kids will actually trust you.”
Start talking early
“The average age of consumption of cannabis is about 15. We know kids who have started at about 11.”
“It’s never too early to start. You might have a different conversation with an 11-year-old than you might with an 18-year-old, but I think having that conversation is important.”
Have a real conversation
“Having an intelligent conversation with kids is always more effective than just saying I don’t want you to do it.
“If kids understand that there are inherent risks involved with consuming cannabis at an early age there’s a better chance that they’ll understand and they’ll stay away from it.”
Be ready for questions about your own drug use
“[Parents] fear that question, ‘Mom, Dad, did you ever smoke?'”
“Don’t shy away from saying when I was your age I experimented … Remember the pot that was consumed back 20 years ago is a far cry from what is on the market today.
“Also, science has learned a lot more about the development of the human brain that we didn’t know 20 years ago. We have to understand that cannabis that’s consumed at too early an age can have some serious consequences.”
Be on the lookout for reasons they might use drugs
“In a lot of cases we find that kids are using drugs, and cannabis in particular or alcohol, to self-medicate to mitigate some other issues.
“Parents need to be on the lookout for signs that their child might be consuming drugs because there is something else, some anxiety issues, personal issues or family issues. That’s often the sign that kids are starting to self-medicate.”